Milton and the Devils Party: Top, Daniel Robinson; right, Mark Graybill; and left, Bob Falgie.
By Erin Sylvester ’13
Students usually don’t imagine their professors writing and performing rock songs outside of the classroom. This is, however, how Widener English professors Dr. Daniel Robinson and Dr. Mark Graybill spend their free time. Robinson—the editor of the CEA Critic who teaches mostly 18th- and 19th-century British literature, specializing in poetry of the Romantic-era—moonlights as a singer, songwriter, and bassist. Graybill—the new associate dean of Arts and Sciences who teaches modern, contemporary, and postmodern American fiction—moonlights as a guitarist.
Robinson and Graybill met while they were in graduate school and decided to form a band when they ended up teaching together at Widener. They created the local indie rock band Milton and the Devils Party back in 2001 and have been rocking out with success ever since. Bob Falgie, their current drummer, has been with them since 2006.
The band’s name has received quite a bit of attention, and Robinson has cited its origin as the passage in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake when he calls John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, “a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” Robinson told Metro Philadelphia, “It’s kind of a joke. I thought it would be a funny name for a rock band because there’s that whole silly tradition of rock Satanism.”
Milton and the Devils Party’s music reminds some of R.E.M and The Smiths, and Robinson has been likened to Elvis Costello. He admits the influence of Morrissey, Nick Cave, Lloyd Cole, and Ray Davies on his songwriting. The band has put out three albums thus far: What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?, What Is All This Sweet Work Worth? (Expanded and Revised), and How Wicked We’ve Become. Their fourth album, You Must Contribute, Brain!, is expected to come out later this year.
To hear a sampling of music from Milton and the Devils Party, check out the band’s website. If you’re over 21, come hear their music live on Thursday, June 7 with 4th Line Revolutionary at the M-Room in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door.
Erin Sylvester is a senior from Brunswick, Maine, majoring in English.